Bharti Airtel today announced that it had reached the 60 million subscriber mark in Africa, adding 10 million customers in less than a year.
The telecom said in a statement that it had reached the landmark across the 17 African countries within which it has operations. It hopes to have over 100 million customers in Africa by March 2013.
Airtel confirmed that it hoped to continue its growth on the continent through a focus on rural penetration, innovation and customer care. It has expanded its 3.75G data services across 11 markets, while Airtel Money is available in 15 different African countries.
“Since launching the Airtel brand in Africa in 2010, Airtel has been on a steady growth path. The ability to communicate with each other is no longer a privilege on this continent, but a necessity,” Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer Andre Beyers said. The firm entered the African market in 2010 when it acquired Zain.
The news that the telecom had hit 60 million subscribers in Africa followed swiftly on from confirmation from global ICT research firm Wireless Intelligence that Airtel is the world’s fourth largest mobile operator, one position higher than the year before. It experience an annual growth of 13 percent last year.
Only China Mobile, which has 683 million subscribers, Vodafone Group with 386 million connections and American Movil Group with 251 million connections ranked higher than Airtel. The firm may even have more subscribers, with the report stating that the ‘Scoreboard’ ranks by connections based on majority owned assets in Q2 2012. Minority holdings (less than 50 percent plus one share) are excluded from the analysis.
The company is not resting on its laurels, however, and in spite of the growth has announced plans to merge its Indian and African operations, in fulfillment of its “One Airtel” policy. Africa and India will no longer have separate heads but will report to a global CEO, with the finer details expected to be made public after a meeting of the board early next year.